Tracking Trends, Talk, Things, and Tidbits
There are numerous reasons to keep up with the latest trends as they relate to your blog or business. If you write exclusively on Asian comic books or Michael Jackson memorabilia you want to know every time a new release is made and you need that information immediately. Several years ago this would have meant extensive research but in today’s world of internet and instant access you can learn about any event moments after it happens. Great if you’re in news or procurement, bad if you’re the up and coming politician photographed walking out of a bar at 10AM with someone who’s not your wife.
For most of us, scouring the internet isn’t possible on an hourly basis and that’s where Google Alerts can be helpful. How many of you already use Google Alerts? Raise your hands.
OK, ( I’m assuming few of you raised your hands, apologies to those who did) Google Alerts allow you to take a keyword or phrase and set up an alert for those exact words. You can specify how often you want to be notified; I chose the ‘as it occurs’ setting in the off chance that something might happen which I’d want to address pretty quickly. The alerts can be sent once a day, or once a week. You will have to set up a separate alert for each sets of words you want to track. Google Alerts is your starting place.
What would you be tracking? Depends. I have alerts set for the names of my blogs, one for my name and a job search. I’m finding that my job search needs to be fine tuned, I set it up for blogging jobs and I get a notice for almost every news article with the word Blogger. Not really I wanted to see, I might be better served by incorporating the words ‘freelance writer jobs’. I also set up alerts for topics specific to one of my client’s products so I can provide up to date information in my posts.
I have been able to see when my blogs have been referenced and I’ve found a couple of incidents when someone has ‘lifted’ a complete post and put it on their blog. That knowledge allows me to address the situation appropriately; maybe a thank you for writing about A Page of My Own or a cautionary comment about passing off another’s work as their own. I know other writers who search for phrases in their articles in an attempt to catch plagiarism.
For blogs like this one, or my personal blog where the topics are less focused, using Google Alert might not be as useful. But, for a specific niche blog it could help with generating ideas and staying on top of your game. Alerts can be cancelled at any time or modified to narrow and define your search terms.
So, if you’ve wondered what you were missing or whether your blog posts, articles, or other information hits the internet this could be the way to find out. Just remember that you can find the good, the bad, and the ugly out there.
Do you already use Google Alerts? What ways do you track information that’s important for your work?
Photo by Chris Blakeley, Flickr.com